By Nick Schwarz
Writing about marijuana is not the easiest of subjects. If you have a reader base that opposes legalization you are going to want to take as much of an unbiased approach as you can. Facts facts and more facts is the key to not angering readers.
While I appreciate a well written informational article, I would much rather hear the voice of the author and their opinion, especially when it lines up with my own. To find a more biased piece I searched papers covering the subject in pro-marijuana states.
Dennis Romero of the LA Weekly wrote a sympathetic piece about a man being sentenced for marijuana trafficking. While he does not directly insert his own opinion, he establishes a tone by poking fun at the situation.
“We called him a brave man. And that he was. Aaron Sandusky, cannabis dispensary operator, is probably going to federal prison to atone for your medical marijuana sins.”
His lead doesn’t give away all the important facts. We don’t know why he is being sent to jail or for possibly how long but we are interested and want to keep reading.
Also by saying “atone for your medical marijuana sins” shows the reader that the writer is mocking the harsh penalties levied on marijuana distributors when they are working within state law. This is an opinion that you would only want to reveal in publications based in pro-marijuana areas. I don’t think many people would read this article had it been printed in Alabama.
In the next line Romero lists the penalties levied.
“Over the weekend the 42-year-old was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana plants, possession of pot with intent to distribute, and maintaining a drug-involved premises, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in L.A.”
Sounds pretty serious until the author adds, “Basically, he was running a Southern California pot shop”.
The author then calmly states that the accused faces 10 years to life in prison. The seriousness of this statement is a foil to the rest of the article which has a lighthearted tone. The reader ends up feeling outraged and shocked because the author sets us up for this line. We are not expecting this story to have such a serious ending.
At no point does the author tell the reader to be outraged, instead he shows his opinion of marijuana and then hits the reader with the effects of the “crime”.